How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Louisiana ?

When buying a used car in Louisiana , don’t get caught off guard by the state’s vehicle sales tax. We fill you in on what's going on, so you know what to expect.
Louisiana's car sales tax rate is 4.45% of the vehicle's purchase price. In addition, you may be required to pay local taxes. And let's not forget about the fees that come with purchasing a car from a private party.

Keep reading to get the scoop on how vehicles are taxed in Louisiana.

Do you Pay Taxes When you Purchase a Car From a Private Party in Louisiana?

When making a car purchase in Louisiana, you’ll pay 4.45% of the vehicle’s purchase price, whether you’re buying from a private seller or a car dealer. Louisiana tax law does not discriminate between the two. Unless you qualify for a sales tax exemption (discussed below), you have to pay tax on your vehicle purchase.
In addition to the 4.45% Louisiana state sales tax on car purchases, local governments (cities and parishes) often charge additional sales taxes and fees.

Discretionary Sales Surtax

Some Louisiana regional governments charge their own sales tax, called a "discretionary sales surtax.”

How Local Vehicle Sales Tax Works In Louisiana

Louisiana doesn’t really have counties. Instead, it has parishes. But they’re really the same thing as counties, for all practical purposes. Many Louisiana parishes charge local sales taxes (the discretionary surtax). Some Louisiana municipalities also charge local sales tax.

Depending on where you live in Louisiana, you could end up paying from 1.85% to 7% local sales tax on top of the state’s 4.45%.

If you live in a part of Louisiana that has no local vehicle sales tax, you’ll enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the country. If you’re in an area that charges 7% local tax, you’ll suffer one of the highest tax rates in the country at 11.45%. That’s a pretty big range for one state.

To learn more about tax rates in your Louisiana parish, see this official resource.

Louisiana Local Sales Tax Example

Say you're in Ouachita Parish and you find a stunning Toyota 4Runner for $45,000.

The Ouachita Parish surtax is 5.99%. This means you'll owe $2,695,5 in county surtax ($45,000 multiplied by .0599). Add the surtax to the state sales tax due of $2,002.50 in state tax ($45,000 multiplied by .0445) and you owe a total tax bill of $4,698.00 on that spiffy new 4Runner.
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What is the Difference Between Sales and Use Tax?

1. You paid no sales tax in another state, in which case you owe the full 4.45% Louisiana sales tax. Let's say you bought a used car in Delaware and didn’t pay any sales tax, given Delaware’s 0% tax rate. You’ll pay Louisiana ’s full 4.45% sales tax.
2. You paid less than 4.45% sales tax in another state, in which case Louisiana charges you the difference. Imagine you bought a used car in Colorado with a FMV of $20,000. Colorado car sales tax rates are 2.90%, so you paid $580 (.029 X $20,000) in Colorado tax. When you go to register your car in Louisiana, your total tax bill will be $890 minus the $580 you already paid in Colorado, for a total tax due of $310 to Louisiana.
3. You paid more than 4.45% in the other state (for example, California levies a 7.25% tax on vehicle purchases). We wish we could tell you Louisiana will give you a refund, but no. At least they won’t charge you any more tax.

Vehicle Registration, Title and License Plate Fees in Louisiana

In addition to car sales tax rates, you will owe other fees when buying a car and registering it in Louisiana, such as a car title fee and a vehicle registration fee.

To register your vehicle at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) branch office, you must show proof of car insurance. The first time you register a passenger vehicle, you will need to transfer the title, which will cost you $68.50.

For passenger vehicles, Louisiana uses a complex sliding scale for registration and license plate fees.

Louisiana passenger license plate fees are assessed at 0.1% of the vehicle's value per year, with a minimum base of $10,000. This fee increases in increments of $2 for every $500 increase in the value of the vehicle above $10,000. For instance, if the value of your car is between $10,500 and $11,499, your plate fee would be $22 for two years. If the value of your car is between $11,500 and $12,499, your fee would be $24 for two years, and so on.

Here are some other Louisiana license plate costs.
For the full scoop on Louisiana license plate and registration costs, see the Office of Motor Vehicles page.

How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in Louisiana ?

Louisiana vehicle tax is calculated as a percentage of the vehicle's purchase price. Some people think they can outsmart the state by negotiating a low "official" purchase price and paying the rest in a side transaction. But the Louisiana Department of Revenue can’t be fooled so easily.
If the Department of Revenue suspects that the purchase price of the vehicle was artificially decreased, they will calculate sales tax based on the car’s fair market value or book value.

The Department of Revenue establishes what the car is worth on the open market by referring to Kelley Blue Book, NADA value, or other reliable sources on used car prices. If they conclude that the car's fair market value is greater than its purchase price, they can opt to base sales tax on the fair market value.

It is important to note that underreporting the purchase price of a vehicle in order to avoid paying sales tax is illegal.

How to Pay Louisiana Vehicle Sales Tax

After buying a car from a private seller, you will pay the sales tax. Here is how to do it:

1. To transfer ownership of the vehicle, you and the seller must complete the necessary paperwork, including the bill of sale (when you buy a used car on PrivateAuto, we provide an official Louisiana bill of sale and prompt both of you to sign it in our app at the appropriate stage of the transaction process). You'll need the following documents to transfer car ownership in a private transaction:
2. The original car title.
3. Proof of Louisiana insurance.
4. Valid driver’s licenses or IDs
5. Calculate the amount of sales tax due. Multiply the vehicle's purchase price by 4.45%.
6. Fill out the sales tax form.
7. Submit payment for all taxes and fees.
8. Get payment proof from the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
9. Get your registration, title, and new license plates. Once you've paid the sales tax and turned in the necessary documentation, you'll get your new registration and title for the car. The title and registration will show that you bought the car and that the sales tax has been paid. You will get your new license plates in mail.
If you buy a used car from a private seller,it is recommended that both you and the seller go to an Office of Motor Vehicles branch to finish the transaction, which protects both of you.

How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on Cars in Louisiana ?

Taxes are something you just can't avoid—they are a part of our lives. You are required by law to pay tax on private used vehicle purchases in Louisiana or any other state that charges sales tax—unless you meet an exemption in Louisiana.

Louisiana Car Sales Tax Exemptions

Here are some sales tax exemptions for used car purchases in Louisiana:
Non-residents. Non-residents who buy a vehicle in Louisiana but do not register or title it there don't owe sales tax in Louisiana. They will, however, owe it in their state of residence, unless they’re lucky enough to live in one of the few states with no vehicle sales tax.
Military personnel. Subject to certain conditions, active duty military personnel stationed in Louisiana may be exempt from paying sales tax on vehicle purchases.
Alternative fuel vehicles. Louisiana provides a tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles that meet certain criteria, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
Government entities. When purchasing vehicles, government entities may be exempt from certain taxes, including sales tax.
Purposefully avoiding sales tax when you owe it is a criminal offense.

Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?

A lot of people mistakenly believe that buying a car from a Louisiana dealer saves money. The opposite is true: going to a Louisiana dealer costs you more money, and it's a pain—unless spending 3 hours in a Louisiana dealership is your idea of a good time.

Dealerships charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other taxes and fees you have to pay (the other taxes and fees are exactly the same whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, by the way). An average documentation fee in Louisiana is $200.
Used car dealerships typically charge higher prices. Their business model is based on buying low and selling high to generate the spread that keeps them in business. To get the best deals, skip the middleman and go directly to private sellers.

We do admit that dealers bring a certain amount of convenience that you don’t traditionally get when you buy from a private seller. In fact, that’s why we exist. PrivateAuto gives you dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand while allowing you to transact peer-to-peer with regular folks like yourself.

By shopping for used vehicles from private sellers on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get lower prices.

Louisiana Sales Tax Calculator

If you're in the market for a used vehicle, you'll want to calculate the applicable sales tax. With PrivateAuto's used car sales tax calculator, calculating sales tax has never been easier. This free online car sales tax calculator calculates the amount of tax you must pay on a used car purchase based on your tax rate (4.45%) and the vehicle's price.

Sell or Buy a Vehicle Online With PrivateAuto

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Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments. You can also schedule a test drive and negotiate the price without ever disclosing your personal information.

Here’s how you can sell your car in Louisiana with a few simple steps:

1. Gather the required paperwork for selling a car in Louisiana
2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
3. List your car
4. Set your terms
5. Vet incoming offers
6. Choose a buyer
7. Schedule a meeting
8. E-sign documents
9. Get paid, instantly
10. Transfer title

In the market for a quality used vehicle? Browse used cars for sale by owner.

Louisiana Vehicle Tax FAQ

Which state has the cheapest car tax?

The states with the cheapest car tax are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, with a tax rate of zero. Nevada has no taxes on private-party car sales, though it does have them for dealership purchases.

If you really want to avoid car sales tax, you might consider moving to one of these states.

With the exception of the above states, all US states charge sales tax on private-party car purchases. There are some states, such as Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama, that charge 4.5% or less.

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What happens if I avoid Louisiana taxes?

When is the Louisiana vehicle tax due?

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